Prodigal producer Mr. Mitch has established a reputation for widening the horizons of his grime contemporaries. Inclusive and welcoming of sounds spanning multicultural genres, the London music maker born Miles Mitchell has an optimistic approach to progressing the evolution of his 130bpm, syncopated breakbeat sound. Co-founding the monumental music movement Boxed, and establishing his iconic label imprint Gobstopper — home to the likes of Odeko, Loom and Clu — Mitchell was first discovered by Butterz boys Elijah & Skillam. From that moment forth, Mr. Mitch has been a Rinse FM staple and a guiding light to all that is good in next gen grime.
Better known for the minimalist production of his debut LP, Parallel Memories, released on Planet Mu three years prior, Mitch's second album is a more layered and emotional body of work. Celebrating the birth of his second son, featuring vocals from both his baby boys, Miles has matured, mellowed and diversified on this latest album Devout. Standout tracks feature collaborations from artists such as P Money, Denai Moore, and Palmistry; a thinking album for quiet moments of deep reflection, Devout is a superb showcase of this musician's skill and bold experiments both on deck and, now, behind the mic. Complex recently hit up Mr. Mitch to discuss the profound impact of his life's realignment in the presence of this next precious, and life changing, chapter.
Has being a father changed your approach to the way you write music?
This is the first record in which I've created any vocal work myself as an artist. Becoming a father has definitely had an impact on my music, simply because lyrics hadn't been something that I had approached before; it was only instrumental music that I made previously. Having my son gave me something profound to talk about. He gave me inspiration. The artists I feature on the album have all written their own lyrics. The tracks that I've written, for myself, present me and the way I listen to music. The way I approach music is to look out for the melody and the hook. Those main parts of a track will catch my ear, and the way I produce music is to have a good melody and strong hook on repeat. I like working with samples; I just find that part and play it again, and again.
How does listening back to this album make you reflect upon yourself as an artist?
I'm not sure... I listen to the album quite a lot, to be honest, because when I make music these days I'm only making it for myself. I've made this album for just me to enjoy. I don't listen back to it and think about myself, externally. There's just a lot of personal pieces in there and it touches me emotionally.
There's a lot of deep, emotionally intelligent music being written by young black men right now. Sampha, Stormzy, Drake and yourself set a strong precedent.
I was brought up by my mum who always said it's okay to cry. That's usually quite the opposite to what people from a Caribbean background are told. In that culture, being a man is about being tough and not showing your emotions. My mum always said to me from a very young age that it is okay to let out your emotions if you're feeling a certain way. I guess that must have helped me. I wasn't intending to make this an emotional album, though; it's just what happened naturally, as I wrote the music. In my day to day life, I think I'm an emotional person as I don't really get angry, but maybe that's because of the things that surround me in my life. I guess most of the emotions I have in my life come out in my music.
Where did most of the writing take place?
I wrote the track "Our Love" very early on in the process, with just a simple piano solo. Initially, I just played and recorded it live. Most of the other tracks on the album with my vocals on were all made within the same day; it was usually just a mood that caught me that day, or getting the time and space to be really alone in the studio and just feel really comfortable with myself. I needed to be able to really get my voice down. It was a hard moment to actually consider putting my own voice and lyrics down, to actually let people hear me on a track. So to be in the studio and to be alone and not have anyone making me feel conscious definitely made a difference.
Has this album changed your approach to the music?
I think so. I've always considered my music label, Gobstopper, to be pushing the boundaries for what grime is and what grime can be. I definitely want to experiment with different genres more now, though. I've always had an interest in metal and electronic and to be able to incorporate those genres, in the right way, to work with my own label is something I really want to try and do. Finding the right artists is the main thing.
I was brought up by my mum who always said it's okay to cry. That's usually quite the opposite to what people from a Caribbean background are told.
Which artists are you excited to be working with at the moment?
I signed a new artist to our label that I haven't actually announced yet called Orlando. He's the first dance act that I've signed so I'm really looking forward to getting that out and letting people hear his stuff. I've been playing his tunes for a while now; he's been sending me stuff and I've been interested in what he does. I had heard something he had previously released and off the back of that, we got him to send in some more tunes. I just said, "Yeah, this is the one for me. This is what I've been looking for."
There are a few artists within the grime sphere who are more narrow-minded about new blood coming into the genre. You have always been a figurehead who has celebrated those artists who interpret grime to be whatever they believe it to be; I wondered what allowed you to be so all encompassing and optimistic?
That's mainly because I started producing and making music when I was 12 years old, and even though I wasn't active within the scene itself, I've been on the journey watching grime progress.I always considered myself to be a grime producer. I've watched the sound change, and I have watched myself change equivalently over time. Change and new blood is good! It just makes sense when you look at other genres which are also evolving. Take house, for example: there are so many different styles of house, but it's still called house. Hip-hop doesn't sound anything like it did 20 years ago, but it is still called hip-hop, so why can't grime change and be wider then just one thing? That's how I've always looked at it.
You allow for people to not be intimidated by a certain formula with grime and encourage them to just do their own thing.
I get why people try and turn their backs on the new artists in grime: because established artists and producers don't want the aesthetic of the sound too convoluted. They don't want grime to be tarnished. At the same time, you have to challenge peoples expectations of what grime can be. That sigma won't change unless you push the boundaries.
What would you say to someone who's just becoming familiar with grime and really wanted to explore it more and understand the sound?
Instead of checking out artists, I would say look into labels and radio channels. Listen to what Butterz, Oil Gang and Gobstopper are releasing, listen to Sir Spyro on Rinse, Boxed on Rinse, listen to Radar Radio, listen to NTS, and you can get a full spectrum of the sound. Grime is so wide; what I play is different to what Oil Gang would play, but we work together and have such history. We all have our different elements of the sound and it's still grime that we're playing, but just different ends of the spectrum.